Studying nursing

Did you know nursing is the UK’s most employable type of degree, with 94% of students getting a job within six months of finishing their course? 

Most people qualify by studying a degree in nursing. Nursing degrees aren’t all about having your nose in a book. There is lots of practical hands on experience with patients in hospital and community settings.

The first thing to decide is which field of nursing you want to study in, so use the links below to find more about them. In all of these fields you’ll have the opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of people each and every day. The four fields of nursing are:

There are some degree courses that allow you to study in two of the fields. These are known as ‘dual field’ degrees. Once you have qualified you’ll be able to work as a nurse anywhere in the UK and even internationally.

male nurse giving injection

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for nursing degree courses vary because each university sets its own entry criteria, but you are likely to need at least two (usually three) A-levels or equivalent qualifications at level 3, plus supporting GCSEs including English, maths and a science (usually biology or human biology). Contact universities directly to find out whether qualifications equivalent to A-levels or GCSEs are acceptable.

Courses often specify preferred or essential A-level or equivalent subjects, such as one science (for example biology) or social science (for example psychology). Some universities offer courses with a foundation year for those without the necessary entry qualifications.

Where to study nursing

Many universities offer degrees in nursing. You can find a list of courses by using our Course Finder.

If you already have a degree in a relevant subject, you can often get recognition for this (a process called Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning - APEL), enabling you to do the course in two rather than three years. You can also find these courses using our Course Finder.

How to apply

Applications for full-time nursing courses are made through UCAS. For part-time courses, contact individual universities to find out their application procedures. Which? University has some good tips on writing personal statements.

Other ways to become a nurse

Nursing degree apprenticeships

The standards for nursing degree apprenticeships have been approved  and a small number of NHS organisations have started to advertise vacancies. Nursing degree apprenticeships offer flexible routes to becoming a nurse that don't require full-time study at university, although nursing degree apprentices will still need to undertake academic study at degree level and meet the standards laid down by the NMC.

You will need to secure a position as a nursing degree apprentice and your employer will then release you to study at university on a part-time basis. You will train in a range of practice placement settings.  

Most nursing degree apprenticeships will take four years. If you already have prior learning and experience, you may get some recognition of this through APEL and so the nursing degree apprenticeship may take you less than four years to complete.

In terms of entry requirements for nursing degree apprenticeships, you will typically need level 3 qualifications as you will be studying to degree level. Those completing a nursing associate apprenticeship will be able to count this training towards the degree-level apprenticeship, and so reduce the length of the apprenticeship. .

Vacancies for nursing degree apprenticeships are advertised on the NHS Jobs website and the Government Find an apprenticeship website

Read the 2016 nursing degree apprenticeship factsheet on the Gov.uk website

Nursing associate

The role of nursing associate is currently being trialled in England. It sits alongside existing nursing care support workers and fully-qualified registered nurses in both health and social care.

It will open up a career in nursing to people from all backgrounds and offer the opportunity to progress to training to become a registered nurse. As the trainee roles are being piloted in a variety of health and care settings, nursing associates will have wider opportunities and more flexibility to move between acute, social and community and primary care.

Read more about the nursing associate role

 

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